Kurt Cobain had a moral compass that would have undoubtedly seen him labelled as a ‘woke snowflake’ if he was still alive today. The iconic Nirvana frontman, who triumphed a belief system of equality, publically voiced his desire to make the world a more progressive place throughout his life.
Rock music has always had an issue with misogyny and sexism, and it still hasn’t disappeared today. While the problem may be less rife than it was when Nirvana first came to prominence, Cobain’s refreshing change of mindset was a welcomed one.
Similarly, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes are following Cobain’s lead, currently breaking down stereotypes by demonstrating how a genuine punk band should act in 2021 by doing their utmost to make women feel comfortable at concerts. For example, during their track, ‘Wild Flowers’, no males can enter the moshpit. “Rock ‘n’ roll should never have been exclusive. It’s for the people,” Carter told Far Out earlier this year. “Going out of our way to make our shows inclusive is our responsibility, and literally, it’s the least we can do. No one is going to do it for us. We can’t expect other people to make that space while there’s all that testosterone and energy flying around. It’s not going to work.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve taken shots, but why does a band like Steel Panther still exist?” Carter furiously laments. “I just don’t get it, I watch it, and it’s misogynistic. There was a time and place for that which existed in a society that we can look back on now, and we can’t justify it, but they didn’t know better, we do now, and it’s 2021.”
In 2021, it does seem mindboggling to consider that these artists of a bygone era with questionable opinions not only exist but continue to fill arenas. Despite their shared caveman attitude, bands like Steel Panther, Kiss, and Guns ‘N’ Roses, were hot property throughout the 1980s – and have continued with similar success ever since. However, while their exploits have been well documented, it was another legendary band that Kurt Cobain couldn’t bring himself to enjoy for this precise reason.
“Although I listened to Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin, and I really did enjoy some of the melodies they’d written, it took me so many years to realise that a lot of it had to do with sexism,” Cobain remarked to Rolling Stone in 1992. “The way that they just wrote about their dicks and having sex. I was just starting to understand what really was pissing me off so much those last couple years of high school.”
Led Zeppelin split up over 40 years ago, and context is important when talking about the misogynistic messages burrowed within their music. They were written at a different time culturally, but not for Cobain, who couldn’t look past Robert Plant’s sexist lyricism.
“And then punk rock was exposed, and then it all came together,” Cobain continued. “It just fit together like a puzzle. It expressed the way I felt socially and politically. Just everything. You know. It was the anger that I felt. The alienation.”
These remarks were supported by the author of Kurt Cobain based-book Serving The Servant and former Nirvana co-manager Danny Goldberg in 2019. “First of all, I agreed with him about that. Secondly, I think he was torn: I think he liked the music. He liked Led Zeppelin’s music—and AC/DC,” Goldberg remarked to Forbes.
“But the lyrics were not something that he felt comfortable with, for exactly the reason that you said. And I think I quote him saying something like that in the book, and I wanted to do it because it’s central to who he was as artist,” he added.
In popular culture today, we see many famous musicians pretend to hold principles, and behind closed doors, they represent a contrasting reality. However, with Cobain, he was the real deal. Nothing was ever for show with him, and he was decades ahead of his time when it came to having a social conscious.